Sunday, July 12, 2009

believing Thomas

I have a soft spot for the apostle Thomas. In case you need a reminder, this is his most famous appearance in the gospels:

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
John 20:24-29
I find this one of the more moving and amazing post-Resurrection stories. And I identify with him. I feel like someone who has been not reluctant to believe but innately skeptical, yet Jesus has overwhelmed all that and I have thrown myself at his feet, pronouncing him my Lord and my God. Moving from intellectual assent to a personal faith.

Now, this is why I sort of resent the fact that Thomas is henceforth referred to as "Doubting Thomas" by most Christians. "Don't be a doubting Thomas!"

Actually, I see Thomas as a model to emulate, much like any of the other apostles. Were any of them especially admirable around the time of Jesus' death? Did ANY exhibit great faith in Jesus' plan? Peter, especially - does anyone call him Denying Peter? No, because the resurrection came, and his life turned completely around. He became a man on fire who shared the gospel with thousands and thousands of people, stopped only by a torturous martyr's death. It is utterly inappropriate to call him Denying Peter, because he was forgiven, and he changed.

Judas, on the other hand, is still called the Betrayer, because he never recovered himself from that act.

Thomas, then - the Thomas who went off into the world, into India according to church tradition, and who died a martyr's death much like almost all the apostles - deserves a break. Thomas' 'flaw', like Peter's, was overcome by Christ, and Thomas became a warrior for the early Christian church. He should be remembered for his belief, not for the doubt which was a crucial part of his personal journey to belief.


feeno said...

If I sound sappy please forgive me.
But I just want to say how encouraging your writings are, even for an old dude like me. I sometime forget just how wise some of our young people can be.

Also, what's cool about "believing Thomas" is that I don't think he ever got around to touching Jesus' wounds etc.. Once he heard Jesus' voice he knew it was Him.

Something happened to all the Disciples who went from "doubting",
"denying" and "indifferent" to then becoming so bold, willing to suffer persecutions, imprisonments and even death. The thing that could have caused that, was that they saw a resurrected Jesus.

Peace out, feeno

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